Say it softly because some do not believe but the WWE tide is turning. While the process may not be as swift as many would hope, fresh talents are on the rise and becoming pivotal members of the McMahon-led empire. The usual suspects may still sit at the summit but they are being joined by a host of capable performers who can prosper for years to come. The future used to appear sketchy, now though, it seems likely to be illuminating and definitely well worth a watch.
For the first time in what seems like an eternity, WWE is being forced to broaden its horizons. New main-eventers are not possibilities anymore, they are a must. John Cena, Edge and Randy Orton aside, the top tier mainstays will soon set sail on their exit voyages or at the very least, not rule the water in which they currently dwell.
Batista has reached veteran age, his body is falling apart and he has expressed a desire to bring his ring-life to an end. Triple H and Chris Jericho’s tanks are far from empty but their creaking bones will catch up with them soon and while, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels will soldier on, compulsory breaks mean they can not be relied upon for long-term, main-event programmes.
Age is not the only exterminator of the pay-per-view dominating posse – Jeff Hardy seems certain to take a high-profile hiatus after SummerSlam. These slots need to be filled. And while the Raw world title scene has barely shifted in years and critics make their feelings of staleness abundantly clear, there is light at the end of the tunnel. For a host of gifted starlets, their time is now.
CM Punk is thriving at the top of the Smackdown card, having gone from unfancied developmental hopeful to scintillating heel and leader of a premier WWE show, and Mr. Straight-edge is not the only blue brand member soaring to new heights.
John Morrison, long-expected to make the transition from aspirant to luminary, is doing just that, dazzling with moves, charisma and all-round star-quality. Dolph Ziggler is also on the fast-track to glory, having been given a new lease of life and chance to impress on Friday nights. It is not inconceivable that both men could taste gold before 2009 is done and dusted.
Slightly lower down the Smackdown pecking order, JTG – Cryme Tyme’s resident jack-in-the-box – is electrifying, The Hart Dynasty’s Tyson Kidd has a seriously promising future and Matt Hardy has the capacity and what looks like the intent to flourish, especially if his much-adored brother departs as expected.
While the celebrity-laden Raw where wrestling is often at a premium is not ideal for shooting to stardom, there are a bunch of figures ready to seize the day. Jack Swagger’s potential is limitless and the “All-American American” could be the face of the franchise for years to come. All the bases that take you to the top are covered – proficiency in combat, vocal ability and the indescribable it-factor. Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne will use their sprightly skills in a way that Rey Mysterio has made his own, MVP is on the cusp of eminence and the Colons could yet have a big part to play, the energetic Primo in particular. The Monday madhouse may be more difficult to shine in but due to the expiring life span of those above them, the aforementioned talents should sample the big time.
ECW, be it the third priority, is also blessed with men who can climb above their present standing. Christian is just waiting for the opportunity to thrill his peeps in the main-event scene of Raw or Smackdown, while Vladimir Kozlov, given the obligatory de-push before he rises again, looks the most likely monster figure to wreak terror on his foes once Kane and ‘Taker are no more. Zack Ryder, while still having a long way to go, is showing signs of becoming a major player, and the same can be said of Irish warrior Sheamus.
And we have most certainly not heard the last of Miz, wherever the Ohio-born loudmouth ends up. Those who cannot see the new leaders of WWE are deluding themselves.
Superstars come and go, that is the professional wrestling way. Some members of the previous long-winded list will flatter to deceive, while other men will come from out of nowhere to forge a highly successful career, in true Ziggler fashion. But what this piece has tried to insist it that there will be heart without HBK, the WWE will play on in the Game’s absence and there will be life after the Deadman. Vince should be licking his lips, there is a goldmine of talent and the future of his kingdom is in very safe hands.